Service Versus Valor
“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen”
We will never be counted as righteous by being physically nailed to a cross as Jesus was. In fact, there is no amount of self-inflicted wounds that will arrest the attention of God. On the contrary, we are continually exposed to opportunities that cause us to take up our cross daily and follow him. God is truly interested in how we handle trials, persecutions, and what we do with seeming setbacks.
Paul’s life of evangelism was directly connected at times to suffering for the gospel’s sake. He understood that no flesh would ever glory in his presence!
II Cor 11:23-28 The apostle Paul went through the list of the things that he had suffered and endured while ministering the gospel:
“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches”
II Cor 12:7-10 Paul gloried in his infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon him. Paul gave himself to the work of God not considering his own flesh in the process. God’s grace is sufficient for us. His grace makes the difference. Grace and a bulldogged determination can push us into the realm where God can work the miraculous. We always need to understand that there is a cause greater than ourselves!
I am always inspired and challenged when I read of the heroics of those involved in risking their own lives, and many times receiving life threatening wounds in the process, to save the life of a comrade or fallen friend.
Marcus Luttrell managed to live through one of those times that change one’s life forever as described in the book, “Lone Survivor”. When his rehabilitation was complete, he went right back into the fray with SEAL TEAM 5 in Ramadi Iraq. He and his twin brother were there at the same time, both Navy frogmen. It was there that he was promoted to Chief Petty Officer and removed from front line operations.
His previous injuries were taking a toll on him and he did not want to accept it. It was the orders of a man he greatly respected that influenced his life to make the change that had to take place to prevent risking the lives of his teammates. Once he accepted it, which did not take very long, he put his whole heart into his new leadership position. It was then that things went south during one of the missions that nearly killed two of his fellow Navy SEALS and nearly wiped out the entire team.
A huge explosion separated 3 teams when "Cowboy" and others did what they call the “Mogadishu Mile”. With no cover fire and bullets flying everywhere, they ran to where the other team was in desperate need of help. Two Iraqi soldiers lay dead, and the Seal’s teammates were severely wounded just inside the house.
Because these men are so physically fit, they survived what you and I could not have; white phosphorus, shrapnel, destroyed feet and leg, and bleeding profusely. These trained men went into action to save their comrades medically while fighting off Taliban and Al Qaeda forces until they could be extracted by Bradley tanks.
“No man left behind” is the motto they live by and die by! Service to their country, family, freedoms, friends, and fellow teammates causes these men to “push” themselves to the limit and beyond. This was done from the leadership on down. “You don’t get people to follow you by demanding it with your words. You do it by commanding it with your example”, one man said. “If Every SEAL Were Like Me, How Good Would Teams Be?
In the book “Service” by Marcus Luttrell, he states that he does not like to talk about valor awards. Often men like him look at being paraded around in front of others while receiving medals from high government and military officials are simply politics and theatrics. Most important to them is their service for others, most of which, never gets published.
The apostle Paul said he spoke as a fool when describing all that he suffered. Most important to Paul were the people he served while bearing in his body the validation of God. Paul truly was a man of valor that never looked at the scars on his body as being inflicted by man. He gloried in the cross and the infirmities that he bore knowing that the power of Christ was upon him as a result.
One day when we walk through the gates of pearl we will receive the crown of life that we will humbly cast at the feet of Jesus who performed the greatest act of valor a man can do; he gave his life for lives of others.
Let’s remember today that being a servant is far more important that awards of valor!
Pastor Ken Winkler